Insanity is a behavior that is often judged by our society. If one behaves in a manner that contradicts the societal norm, he is ostracized for his inappropriate actions. Insanity however is not to be confused with irrationality. Tom Ripley's many immoral acts, namely, murder, forgery, and deceit could be perceived as insane; however, when one takes into consideration the calculated motives behind them, it is evident that they are merely irrational. Tom's irrational, yet shrewd mind allows for him to achieve his primary goal, that being, becoming his obsession, Dickie Greenleaf. His shrewdness however, is not powerful enough to allow him to function as solely Dickie Greenleafhe can only function as a combination of Dickie's outer-self, with his own inner-self.
To understand Tom Ripley, it is of most importance to analyze the root of his irrationality. He appears intimidated by those who possess more than he. Tom has a desire to leave his current life, that is, "to leave New York" and to be better accepted by society (9). When Mr. Greenleaf proposes for Tom to take a free trip to Italy, naturally, Tom sees it as a window of opportunity, and accepts his offer. He gladly says "good-bye to all the second-rate people he had hung around and had let hang around him in the past three years in New York," and takes the opportunity for " a clean slate (34-35)." Dickie Greenleaf, and Italy then become his escape from loneliness and destitution.
Once Tom arrives to Italy and is introduced to Dickie Greenleaf's affluent style of living, he realizes the need to become part of it. The only way he sees himself achieving higher status is by physically and mentally becoming Dickie Greenleaf himself. Elements of Tom's irrationality are first seen when Tom helps himself to Dickie's wardrobe. "He jerked Dickie's closet door open and looked in. He took off his knee-length shorts and put on the gray flannel trousers. He put on a pair of Dickie's shoes.... [continues]
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